Bees are the superheroes of pollinators. One of the best places to learn about these amazing insects is Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide by Heather Holm. It is a wonderful guide to the bees of the eastern half of the United States, the important pollinator services they provide, and the native plants they feed upon.
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The Xerces Society emphasizes that we can help bumble bees thrive by providing three key types of habitat: plants offering pollen and nectar on which to forage, nesting sites, and places to overwinter. Extension Master Gardeners encourage the public to create, protect, restore, and enhance high quality bumble bee habitat. By implementing these practices and creating corridors between habitat, we can help slow, stop, and reverse the recent decline of bumble bee populations.
Anise Hyssop inhabits widely scattered areas in the northern United States and Canada. Though indigenous to only a few Pennsylvania counties, in the Mid-Atlantic it grows easily in well-drained soil. Pretty purplish flower spikes, which attract pollinators all summer, add a vertical layer to the garden; the leaves and seeds add anise flavor to teas, salads, and baked goods.
The Glencarlyn Library Community Garden added four species of blazing stars to the renovated beds bordering the parking lot. These are all attractive perennial native wildflowers that homeowners may want to consider for their own gardens. The plants, which are all members of the aster family, are distinctive in that their feathery flower heads consist only of disk florets without accompanying ray flowers.